Thursday, January 24, 2013
Outfit for a Tuesday: Classics
A striped blue Oxford button-down and cashmere cardigan are among the quintessential business casual staples, basics with an exuberance of tradition and effortless classic style. I remember, after accepting my position right after university, going shopping with my mother at a local Talbots, to retrieve an army of business attire, heavy on the button-downs. Certainly more conservative than I am about many things, she had convinced me that button-downs were the route to the ideal first impression. Mostly, I felt dowdy and lame, and not like my true self. While my photographic memory of the event fails me, I can say with some certainty, even as an almost-adult, there were some angst-driven eye rolls and heavy sighs involved.
After my first few weeks on the job, after acclimating to my office environment and the general permeating corporate personality, I realized that a strict button-down uniform was not necessary or expected. I was, and still am, young, with fresh ideas and an invigorated, dynamic outlook on life and its challenges; I wanted my exterior to reflect that. I could both look professional, even don the stereotypical professional pieces, and infuse my sense of personal style. Essentially, layering and slathering on accessories, in the form of lush scarves and bright necklaces, dressed up this new wardrobe of mine in a way that seemed more authentic. Most likely, my mother would balk at this, but, honestly, I have found that in engaging with anyone, socially or professionally, feeling yourself, even a modified version of that self given prescribed dress code constraints, leads to stronger, more fruitful relationships. So, I have continued to add Oxford work blouses to my closet, and have grown to love them and feel comfortable in them, with the right pairings.
Tuesday morning, I decided to spruce up my business casual staples with a cascade of pearl beads in a bronze champagne and traditional cream. Both necklaces were originally from J. Crew, and discovered by me at two different local consignment shops. While I generally admire the modernized vintage appeal and, typically, decent craft quality of J. Crew jewelry, the price is usually pretty absurd, since nothing is constructed from veritably precious material. Most of my jewelry was made in a now distant decade; while I am aware of which costume jewelry brands bring more cachet, or exhibit more intricate design quality, I pick based on preference, not on name.
For each of these necklaces, I was attracted to the hue of the beads, the reminiscence to a bygone time, and the careful knotting between each, which helps to prevent the entire strand from snapping and each sphere rolling away like balls of mercury, an exercise in entropy. So, I extend my many thanks, to the women out there in the world who are willing to pay exorbitant prices for mass-manufactured, albeit classically and aesthetically, brand recognized jewelry and who then decide to donate or re-sell these pieces to their local consignment store. My thriftiness is eternally grateful.
Standing in that Talbots almost four years ago, trying to envision myself coming to an organized office each day and sitting in a work cube, before a work laptop, I did not initially foresee much need for my beloved animal prints. Such a wildly inaccurate assumption. Particularly with accessories and shoes, leopard print has, for me, remained an equally formidable work wardrobe staple, almost on par with my favorite cashmere sweaters and my trusted striped Oxfords. This leopard lucite cuff in particular, discovered in a small shop up north in Providence, has been in serious heavy rotation. Against a neutral camel and blue on white stripe, the lucite and the pattern add some welcome texture.